Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 10 (ANI): As the focus shifts towards white-ball cricket after India clinched the Test series 3-1 to reach the World Test Championship (WTC) final, former India batsman VVS Laxman feels that skipper Virat Kohli should play freely and express himself against England bowlers in the T20I series.
Kohli failed to impress with the bat in the recently concluded four-match Test series as he accumulated just 172 runs in six innings including two half-centuries. Things will not be any different in the white-ball format as Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid will look to add pressure on him to dismiss him cheaply.
Speaking on Star Sports show Game Plan, Laxman said, "I definitely think it's a strong fast bowling unit as far as England is concerned because they have got a lot of variations; they've got pace in the form of Mark Wood and Archer. Good death bowling options in the form of Jordan; Ben Stokes can be their all-rounder. But their spin department looks a little weak compared to their fast bowling department. But as such, I feel that Kohli is a class batsman, he's an outstanding batsman and with depth and quality in the Indian batting line-up, I think he should go and express himself."
Laxman said that with the quality of batsmen in the line-up, Kohli can play with more freedom and should not look to play the anchor's role.
"It's not necessary for him to play the anchor role, because we know that he's a stroke player. If he plays with positive intent, if he plays his high percentage shots, not only his strike rate will be high, but his consistency also will be there for everyone to see -- he's a match-winner. With Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul opening the innings, and then you have got Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant, I think they have a lot of depth. So, Kohli should go out and express himself and play with a lot of freedom, and that's when he's very dangerous," he said.
He further said it is a good time for Team India to test the bench ahead of the World T20. "They know that they are the number one T20 playing nation in world cricket, we saw what they did in the 50-over format -- how much they are focused on winning the World Cup. I think, it's the same goal for Eoin Morgan and the England team. It's a great opportunity for Team India because you are playing five matches in your home condition, followed by IPL and Asia Cup before the T20 World Cup. It's a great opportunity to test your bench, which is why I feel the squad is very formidable -- as far as the Indian squad is concerned," Laxman said.
The first T20I between India and England will be played at Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday. (ANI)